Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Five--Five books on my To Be Read Pile

It's Friday and I was looking at the books I plan to read in 2015.

Here are five of them.  

To make it easier for everyone, I have limited it to one book per author.  Just understand that I will be reading all the new Nora Roberts books.

1) Obsession in Death by J. D. Robb.  It's the newest Eve Dallas book.  I will be reading it. 

2) That Night by Chevy Stevens.  I've enjoyed the other books I have read by Ms. Stevens and I look forward to this one. 

3) Below Stairs by Margaret Powell. I love Downton Abbey. I adore it. I have heard good things about this memoir that inspired the show. 

4) The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. While not one of my favorite authors, I've enjoyed what I have read by Ms. Hannah. However when friends whose opinions I trust tell me that I MUST read this book NOW, then it at least goes on my to be read pile. 

5) The King by J. R. Ward. The Black Dagger Brotherhood is a series for Buffy The Vampire Slayer fans who are looking to get their Vampire fix. While not as consistent as Buffy--each of these titles are worth a read. I haven't gotten to this one yet as I bought it the week mom passed away and haven't gotten to it. I want to read it though, so--I hope to do it soon. 

What do you plan to read?


Star Trek Deep Space Nine might be my favorite part of the Star Trek Franchise. I love the characters, how they rubbed each other the wrong way, and a myriad of other little things.

One of my favorite scenes involves Odo--a fish-out-of-water alien growing up with people who are not like him.

Odo: I'll never understand the humanoid need to... 'couple.' 
Quark: You've never... coupled? 
Odo: Choose not to. Too many compromises. You want to watch the karo-net tournament; she wants to listen to music, so you compromise - you listen to music. You like Earth Jazz; she prefers Klingon Opera so you compromise - you listen to Klingon Opera. So here you were ready to have a nice night watching the karo-net match and you wind up spending an agonizing evening listening to Klingon Opera. 

I don't think it would be so funny if it weren't true.
I've been married close to nineteen years and there's been a lot of compromise--both ways. However, if I were to be honest, it does veer strongly in my direction.

Which leads us to the Super Bowl.

D was born and raised in Western PA--also known as Steeler Nation. That being said, while he enjoyed watching football it wasn't the cathedral it is to most born and raised in Western PA.  Which meant I wasn't a football widow.

I don't know how long we were married when I caught him watching some football. I should note when I say, "watching" I mean yelling at the coach and the refs as if they could somehow hear them and make the changes he wants them to.

I realized that he missed football and wanted to talk to him about it. Of course, being me, I wanted to talk to him during the game and I didn't realize how that just wasn't going to work.

Anyway after the game he kept saying that he really didn't care much about football--but he missed the Super Bowl. I compromised--and we started watching the Super Bowl. We went to a few Super Bowl parties.  When we moved out to where we live now, and we didn't want to travel too far for the Super Bowl, I decided to try new apps and dips for our next party and a tradition was born.

This left us with what we do now. I find a bunch of new apps that I want to make for Super Bowl and we try them. We have had some hits. Our Bacon wrapped Pineapple has been a hit at every party I have thrown since. We have had some misses. For reasons passing understanding the chicken-sweet potato kabobs were so awful that after two bites we threw the whole lot into the trash. In fact, every one I made that year was such a miss we wound up going to our freezer to get some frozen hot dogs in blankets.  But it keeps it interesting for me.  And D--he watches the football.

Sometimes, when the Steelers are in the Super Bowl--he cares who wins. This year he's rooting for the Seahawks because he just doesn't like Bill Bellichik.

So--Go Seahawks.

In that spirit--if you haven't seen this xkcd --see it and enjoy.
Hooray for Snacks!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The color of the hand holding the guns

I have heard it from adoptive parents.

"When it comes to me and my child, I'm color blind. I don't see that they are different."

I'm not going to look at their faces and say, "bullshit", but that is what I think.

Also the kids in question-- they are not fooled. They know something is different about their color from your color. Lotus has noticed it. She points out that Mommy and Daddy have blue eyes and she has black eyes.  I explain to her it is because China Mommy had black eyes and she's okay with that. But she still notices the difference.

I think that people believe that children don't see skin color because it just doesn't matter to them. Are you fun and running around and playing? Yes? Then come play with me. Are you pushing me down? Yes? Go away.

It really is that simple.

At one of our local malls there is a mini-play area for the kids. While I was dealing with the heart of Infertility or the worst parts of The Wait, I couldn't go near it. Now with my darling 2 and a half year old, it is a godsend.  She's still kind of little for it, but it is fun.

One of the first times we went she was making her way around, slowly as this was right after she started walking. There was a little boy, well, not that little as he was around 6 to her 2, and he was a BIG little boy. Not fat, but muscular.  He was also black. He bounded up to Lotus and I nearly intervened. I wasn't sure what he wanted or why he ran over to her so fast. It turned out he thought she was closer to the edge of the slide than she was and didn't want her to fall. He then, gentle as a man could be, held his hands out and helped her to sit on the slide. They went down together, both yelling Wheee!!!  He then became her protector. If other kids came too close he yelled at them--"Hey, be careful of the baby here!"  They played for nearly a half hour.

I sought out his mom and complemented his patience and caring demeanor. That's how I found out he was six--his mom told me. I was stunned to find out he didn't have younger siblings--but a ton of younger cousins. We were chatting and I said what a fine man he will turn out to be. The woman sighed and said "As long as he stays away from Florida with bags of Skittles," alluding of course to Treyvon Martin.  I felt very white. She looked at me and seemed to be ready to apologize. I shook my head and we talked about how these boys and men who have been getting killed by people were once little boys. I said that I had almost said something when he came running up. She looked at me, "He's a big kid running towards your little one--of course you're going to notice. But you didn't have a gun in your hand and you didn't shoot it. We've got to get the guns out of their hands."

It was nearly a year ago when I had this conversation. Before all the stuff that happened recently. I think about it a lot. I think about the main question. How do we get the guns out of their hands?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Booking and Cooking

So, I'm recovering from the Blizzard that wasn't. I did it by reading a lovely new book and then by cooking, a lot.  so I thought I would review what I have read and cooked.


Secret Relations
by Shelia M. Goss

Full disclosure, a friend and former co-worker edited this book. I probably would not have picked this book up without that in, and it would have been my loss. For one thing, reading this book can definitely raise the temperature in a cold room. It's a contemporary romance with an African-American main couple that has amazing chemistry.

Charlotte is a talent manager and Sean is a major talent. They have duffel-bags full of baggage from former relationships and yet they see something in each other that makes them take the chance on love. The dialogue is witty and the sex scenes are shift-in-your-seat hot.

What I think I liked most about this book, besides the chemistry and fun romance, was the support system of the heroine. Often the friends of the heroine are two dimensional--not in this book. You felt for them and loved how they rooted for Charlotte and Sean and still had their own lives. I'm glad this is the first in a series, so we can see the others get their own loves.

I give it a three of five stars on my goodreads account. I have the feeling that the next one will be a four or a five.


Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman

Go to her blog to read her story. I can only tell you my response to her recipes.

  1. They looked beautiful. So beautiful that I thought I'd give them a try. 
  2. When I tried them. Oh. My. Gd. 
  3. Since most of these tend to take a long time, what I wound up doing is when there was a blizzard or bad weather predicted, I went to her cookbooks and found something yummy to cook. 

For this weekend I made her beans and cornbread. I've done it before and it is yummy! I think this might have been the first recipe I made from this blog. It has since become my go-to lousy weather recipe. This was the first time I made it where Lotus would try it. I wondered if she'd like it.
Answer= YES! She loved it. I will have to note that the "Beans Beans" chant was quite true. She was a gas molecule for the next day.

Yesterday I made the Ranch Style Chicken for the first time. I made some changes. I didn't grill it--I pan fried it in the same pan I used for the bacon. I separated one for Lotus as she's not a big meat fan. She loved the bacon, and the cheese. The chicken--not so much. That didn't matter, my husband and I enjoyed it a lot and finished her portion.

I might try another new one from her cookbook soon. I might even take pictures.  We shall see.  That being said, I highly recommend anything from her blog, cooking show, and especially her cookbook.

Monday, January 26, 2015

#Microblog Monday - When the deed matters more than the art

A few days ago, my daughter did something which mimicked a scene from Bill Cosby's standup. Instead of posting it far and wide and laughing, I mourned, almost like I mourned a death, because I can't imagine being able to watch Mr. Cosby's art without thinking of Mr. Cosby's deeds

This seems to be a relatively new phenomenon. Few people, even Jews, have problems walking down the aisle to the Bridal Chorus written by Richard Wagner who was a notorious anti-semite and racist. No one is even suggesting removing Ty Cobb from the Baseball hall of fame. No one is suggesting that Ben Roethlisberger retire or be thrown out of football even though he has several women accusing him of rape. Is it because that Bill Cosby is black and these other three men are white?

I don't know. I can't even say what my own threshold is for ignoring the deeds of the artist to try to enjoy the art. I do know that several people crossed it. I no longer read the works of Orson Scott Card or Marion Zimmer Bradley (I actually removed all but one of her books from my collection). I can't watch Seinfeld with the same enthusiasm since the Michael Richards rant, ditto anything starring Mel Gibson, and now Bill Cosby.

I sometimes wish that I could go back to not knowing--but then my ignorance would be a problem. I don't have any answers--how do others handle this?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Five--Five things I have already done, that I swore I wouldn't do when I became a mom

So...Happy Friday!

My Friday Five today shows the difference between parenting before the kid and parenting after the kid. For a dozen years I was on the outside looking in to parenting. I had my thoughts of what I would "never" do with my toddler.

Some of them went out the window while we were still in a hotel room in China. Others had to wait until she got to that stage or that behavior.

In the words of my parents and grandparents. Oy. Parenting is not for the timid.

Anyway here are five things that I said "I'm not going to do that when I have a kid."

  • 5) Preparent Me: Whatever we are having for dinner, that's what we are having. I'm not a short order cook and I don't take requests.

To be honest, I'm still not a short order cook (unless it is leftover night). However if the bill of fare is not to her majesty's liking, I have my go-to. Plum Organics. She loves them. (And no, they are not sponsoring this post.)

  • 4) Preparent Me: After a short time of readjustment where I expect to co-sleep, I will gradually get my child sleeping in her own crib in our room and then her own bed in another room. 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, right. There is a crib which we plan to turn into a toddler bed in the room with Lotus' toys and changing table. She has never even gone into the thing. Most nights we, meaning I, will rock her to sleep and then D will put her in her crib. Most nights in the middle of the night, I will be awakened to the dulcet tones of MOMMMMEEEEEEEEEE! Where I will stumble to her crib, lift her out, with a small diaper check on the way. Then I will put her between me and my husband and we will all, hopefully sleep. Last night, she slept in her crib all night. After I checked that she was still breathing--I began to hope that maybe I can transition her to her own room. Before she goes off to college.

  • 3) Preparent Me: My child will not eat fast food. Not ever. 

While we have only ever gone to McDonalds once, and that was in China; we eat fast food. More than I want to.

  • 2) Preparent Me: We will find a sitter and once a month go out on our own. 

Yeah, well we haven't found a sitter. We did have one once but it didn't fit. Also. Money. We don't have it. Often we will leave her with my in-laws when they visit.  But not even close to once a month.

  • 1) Preparent Me: I would not even consider giving up my career for a child. 

I didn't really think about what would happen when my career gave me up. I am still looking for a job but I'm not getting anywhere. Now I'm starting to shift to think of what I can do to make money. It's a brain shift, but I think it is a good one. I think I want to be responsible for my work.  We will see.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More than the sum of my allergies

This Allergies are Bullshit article got me annoyed.

You see, I have food allergies.

But I've had them since the 1970's--before they were cool.

I am allergic to nuts (all of them), tomato, and seafood (all).  I literally don't know what it is like to go shopping and not check out a label. I've never had the luxury of trying a new food without asking what is in it. I remember when the Roy Rogers restaurant chain used to put peanut butter in their hamburgers. I know because I couldn't eat them.  The latest thing--fish oil in milk.  Yeah, milk with the Omega 3, that has fish oil in it. YUM!

 I've been very fortunate that my food allergies are such that ingesting food I am allergic to will ruin my week and not end my life, but that still means a few days where me and the toilet are best buds. It means a rash and scratching in places you don't want to itch.  It is not a fun scenario.

The woman in the article was upset when her oldest kid's school went nut-free. Now she has a youngest kid with a nut allergy. Now she gets it.

I remember another mother. I was at a friend's birthday party. They served pizza for the kids and something else for the adults. I don't remember what it was, except I could eat it. I remember I was about seven or eight years old. I told the birthday girl's mother that I was allergic to tomatoes. She dismissed it and said if I wanted to be picky, that was my own problem. I asked if I could have a small amount of what the grownups were having. She said no. She also was very firm on the fact that I couldn't have cake if I didn't have lunch. I wanted cake. I was seven or eight years old. I figured she was an adult and knew better so I had some pizza. I remember watching my hands break out. Every time I blinked I saw more hives on my hands. Another friend who was furious with all of this, dragged me to the mother and showed her my hands as they broke out in hives. My mom was called. She came to pick me up as I was eating my hard-won cake. Mom was beyond livid and I wasn't ever allowed to play at that girl's house again.  I often wonder if the mother in question thinks about me when she hears about food allergies, probably not.

I've heard the allergies are bullshit line before, and all I can think is--I wish.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Microblog Monday (Even though it is Tuesday) Books?

One of the side effects of my grief was that I was unable to read.

I had already lost my job in publishing, but if I hadn't I don't know if I would have managed to keep it through my reading dry spell.

To explain--I am a voracious reader. My house has thousands of books--not hundred--thousands. I have, several years running, read over 144 books in a year. So when I say that following my mother's death, I was unable to find the concentration to lose myself in a book; I want you to understand what I mean. When I did get through a book again, it was a reread. For a time, I could only reread books. I could only reread books by one author--but I'll go into that on a later post.

But now, I can read. I've read four new books since January 1. I would like recommendations. I have been gravitating towards the frothy, but I could do with a meaty book. Just no children in terrible danger...I can't do that.

What do you recommend?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Side By Side--USY

In the corner of the Internet that deals with Conservative Judaism there's been a little bit of a commotion. It seems that the youth group, USY (United Synagogue Youth) has changed its rules. It used to be that the leadership couldn't date someone who wasn't Jewish. (aka interdating), Now they are allowed to.

That's it.

If you had pulled a pin out of a grenade you might have had a smaller explosion. The outcry from conservative adults who are upset that their childhood club was, to me, astounding. "Why I Am No Longer A Conservative Jew" read one blog. "Another Nail in the Coffin for Conservative Judaism" read another.


I loved USY. It was where I went to hang out with my friends. The fact that it answered a lot of questions about Judaism that hebrew school didn't was just icing.

I went away to college. I met a wonderful man. I married him.
No, he wasn't and isn't Jewish.

This has nothing to do with USY. This has nothing to do with how I was raised. Well--actually maybe it did. Every day, I watched a kind, remarkable, genuinely good man be wonderful to his intelligent, remarkable, wife. My parents. I wanted a marriage like that. Do I have a marriage like that? Well, they missed their 65th wedding anniversary by two months--so ask me in another forty years or so. I found a man who treats me well. I found a man who adores me. I found someone who helps me to grow into the person I want to be.

This picture is it for me.

It's simple. It's a Christmas tree and a fully lit Chanukiah (Menorah).

It is my home.
It is my December reality--not a dilemma.

To some it is horrific. Intermarriage where I did not, nor will I ever, ask my husband to convert.

I wonder what those people would say if he asked me to convert to his religion. Would they say that is horrible? How I worship the Devine, how I see myself in the universe is more in line with my Jewish upbringing. I cannot change that. To change that is to change a vital part of me. My husband understands this. To ask him to convert is to change a vital part of him. I understand that.

We are raising my daughter as a Jew. We are raising her to understand and respect the religion in which her father was raised. The kids in USY who changed the rules that the leaders can now date outside Judaism might well have parents who are not Jewish. They are honoring their parents. We would do well to honor the children.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Microblog Monday -- No such thing

In the often interminable wait for a child, I was often told to "just relax".

Now that I have a child, I find that my worry goes overtime.

What if she falls and bumps her head and I lose her.
What if someone shoots up her daycare?

I didn't know that the worry I felt everyday of the wait would multiply by a factor of ten once I got her.

I wouldn't change it--I just wish I knew how better to live with it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Past tense sucks

I went out to see my father yesterday.

I need to say that using the singular for my parents is still weird. It has been nine months since mom passed and I still consider the house where I grew up, my parents house. Going out to Long Island from where I live has always been going to see my parents. My father is not a singleton.

Except he is now. Of course he is.

In October of 2013 mom learned that the backache she had was a very aggressive form of uterine cancer. It was suggested she start radiation and chemo immediately. Chemo had always scared my mom so very much, and she was reluctant to do it so she sought a second opinion. The doctor for the second opinion said that the cancer had spread so much that she should consider hospice immediately.

Telling my mother to give up when she hadn't yet begun to fight was the galvanizing force she needed. She said she was not going to hospice and immediately started chemo. It was awful. She felt horrific and tired all the time. My mom, who had been a young 86 when this began, aged so quickly it defies explanation.

By March of 2014 it was shown that the cancer had spread to her liver and lungs. In April we lost her.

It is January 2015 and I feel like she has been gone for so very long--and I sometimes feel I lost her yesterday. And my own grief is dwarfed by my father's. He lost his companion of the past 65 years. Mom chose his outfits, cooked for him, did laundry. They were each other's best friend and I don't exaggerate when I say that I wanted my marriage to be like theirs.

I expected my dad to be lost without her. And he was. He has been. But I see him healing. I see him going forward and meeting people as a person--not part of a couple. He is "keeping company" with several women--one more often than not. Mom would have liked her. Hell, if she had thought about it Mom would have set them up.

I'll be talking more about my grief here. I'll be sharing it. But I need to start out by saying what an amazing, admirable person my father is. I need to share just a bit of who mom was. Yet, yet, when I try to talk about mom in the past tense, my composure all goes to hell. Tears are running down my face now and my fingers are hard on the keys.

I want to talk about the strong woman mom was. She was the second woman in her university's history to graduate with a degree in World Trade. (Now it would be international finance.) I want to talk about how she liked to cook and how she loved to read. But all I have to say about her is in the past tense and it hurts.

It hurts so much that I change from a 43 year old woman to a little girl crying one sentence.

I want my mommy.
I want my mommy.

Friday, January 9, 2015


Nothing, and I mean nothing, filled my gut with so much bile and trepidation as hearing that Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, was coming to Starz as a series. This book is in a special niche in my collection.

You see, I have over a thousand books--easily--in my house. They fill every spare inch of the house and overflow. A friend once suggested that I get rid of the books--or really trim down the collection to maybe two bookcases. After I stopped laughing I explained to him how that wasn't possible. The books are my refuge, my friends and my art.

Getting back to Outlander. Of the myriad of books I have read and will read--this book stands apart. It's in the pile of "If my house catches fire--these come with me when I run."

Is it that good? Yes. The characters, the situations, the romance. James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Frasier is one of the best romantic heroes written. The writing is such that even when I am rereading it I am so caught up in the moment that I will forget the craziness of the 21st century. I have  literally jumped out of my chair when the phone rang because I was so stunned that there was a phone!

It's about a nurse from World War II going back in time to Scotland before the Battle of Culloden (1745). She meets, marries, and falls in love with Jamie Frasier--pretty much in that order. Howver she has her husband, Frank Randall who is a direct descendant from Black Jack Randall--the villain of the piece. More than that you need to read it for yourself.

I remember vividly how it was recommended to me. I was shopping in B. Dalton bookstore. I was in the romance section and a person I had never seen before handed me this book. It was a gold cover with a broken clock on it. The woman said that she had never done this before--but I had to read this book. She said that I would like it so much I too would be handing it to strangers to read. She was right. I loved it.

I was stunned then to find myself loving the series. The casting has been exquisite. Catriona Balfe and Sam Heughan have amazing chemistry as Claire and Jamie Frasier. Tobias Menzies should be clearing his mantle for an Emmy as the villain Black Jack Randall--as well as Claire's 20th Century Husband. I look forward, as this blog progresses, to discussing the weekly episodes.

As for now, if you haven't read Outlander yet, do so. Imagine yourself in the stacks of a bookstore--or library. A heavyset woman with a kind face comes over and presses a book in your hand. That's me. I am telling you that this is a book like no other--and you should read it.

Also, congratulations to the cast and crew of Outlander for winning the People's Choice award for favorite cable sci-fi/fantasy show. It was exceedingly well deserved.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My daughter

She is two and a half years old.

For one year and three weeks of those two and a half years--she didn't know I existed.

She was born in China and left to be found by one of the Half the Sky SWIs(orphanages) in that country. She was left with a note.

The nannies loved her. They gave us a load of pictures starting from when she was a month old; ending in the clothes she was wearing when she met us. We think they might have been taken that day.

She loved the nannies. Loved them so much that she trusted them enough to love us. When we visited the SWI we met them. Got to thank her second-favorite nanny. We didn't see her favorite--she couldn't stand to say goodbye to our little girl again. When the nanny put her into my arms she told my daughter that I was her mama. As we walked out she looked at me and said "Mama." An emptiness that had been inside me through eleven years of infertility hell, including a seven year wait for a non-special needs child from China was began to be filled.

Now, my heart is so filled with her I can't imagine life without her.

She has two laughs. One is what I call her polite laugh. I get this one when I pretend that her shoes go on her head as I help her dress.

The other is her full out laugh--I hear it when she's getting tickled, hanging upside down or something really strikes her as funny.

Her moods are mercurial as any two year old. Her favorite words are "MINE!" and "NO!" Her favorite sentence is "I do!" as she struggles to learn how to dress, climb, and all the things she needs to learn.

I will  call her Lotus on the blog--mainly to give her a degree of privacy. She's my flower, my darling, my daughter.

An Intro

2014 sucked. I lost. There were days I thought I lost everything.  I lost my job. I lost my mother. I lost a large part of myself that I didn't realize I had until I lost it.

In the wee hours of the first part of 2015, I decided I didn't want to feel like a loser anymore and I decided to blog again. I didn't want to go back to my old blog for a number of reasons.

1) It started as an IF blog. I'm parenting now. Infertility has so much to do with how I parent but I have changed and wanted my space to change too.

2) I want to review things. Books, plays, restaurants, recipes. I want to branch out.

3) My blog was anonymous. This blog has my name, my contact info.


Here I am.

Welcome to Pages, Stages, and Rages.

Pages--both web and book.  The next post will be a book review. Who knows what comes next--I certainly don't.

Stages--both stages of life and discussion of stages--like a Broadway one.

Rages--I don't want to make this an angry blog, but things being as they are I'm sure I'm going to get angry once in a while.

Anyway. Welcome to my space on the net.  Hope to see you again soon.